Monday, April 30, 2018

Day 16- Why Is Water So Heavy

Monday April 30, 2018
Side of a mountain(365) to Pie Town Alternate(376) to Side of a Mountain On alternate(11.9) 22.9 miles Total miles 299.5 

Alternate had a ton of elevation change. I’m guessing an additional +3,000 ft/-3,500 ft

Before I tell you about my day I’d like to wish The General, a very happy birthday! 

My mom in her happy place, Lucca Italy 

It was cold last night. I put on every article of clothing I have with me and prepared for a rough night. Surprisingly, I stayed warm enough. I did a good job of finding a spot sheltered from the 29mph winds. Finding the motivation to get out of my sleeping bag was a different story. I knew that the faster I got moving the sooner I could get warm. I managed to pack up almost all of my belongings from inside my sleeping bag. It was an impressive feat. My next challenge was finding the trail again. I had hiked farther away from it than normal, looking for the perfect spot. Once I found the trail I started hiking as fast as I could, so that I could warm up. I would get a pretty good pace going and then lose the trail momentarily. The area I was in had a lot of blow downs and ground debris from a wildfire. I didn’t like having to stop and look around for the trail. I kept getting cold. I had an extended uphill climb that warmed me right up. By the time I hit the top I was shedding clothing, but then the trail went down for a long time and I was exposed to a lot of wind. I had gotten sweaty on the way up so going down I was chilled. I didn’t want to stop again to put more clothes back on so I just gritted my teeth and pressed on. 

View from the fire area

My main concern today was water. I had a guaranteed water source 13 miles away, but it was supposedly very gross. After that I was looking at an almost thirty mile dry stretch, which meant a dry camp and 21 miles the next day. Whew, I know how much water weighs and was not looking forward to the rest of the day. 1 liter of water weighs 2.2lbs. With that many miles and a dry camp I was looking at a minimum of 4 liters, for an extra 8.8lbs on my back. I’ve struggled to figure out why water feels heavier than food. Leaving Doc Campbell’s I had an extra 16lbs of food in my pack. I’ve eaten almost all of that, so 4 liters of water shouldn’t feel so heavy. My best guess is that I pack the food inside of my pack and can distribute the weight properly. The water goes into my hip belt and on the back of my pack. I can’t distribute the weight as well. The 13 miles to water went by very quickly. I hiked about 8 miles on proper trail. After that I hiked on jeep and 4x4 roads. Boring doesn’t quite cover it. 

Last little bit of trail for 40 miles

As I neared my destination of a gross cow pound I caught the glimmer of something in the bushes. I couldn’t believe it. It was a small water cache. Not only did it save me from having to walk off trail for water, but it was potable. I didn’t have to filter it. Score! Thanks mystery person for the awesome treat. 

Random water cache

I drank a liter right then and there. Then I filled up 4 very heavy liters. The rest of the day would be a struggle. I’m still not feeling great, but at least I’m not worse. I stopped and took mini breaks every few miles. The dirt road was taking a toll on my feet and sanity. Every time the road went uphill it turned super rocky. There is nothing worse than hiking uphill with a ton of water on your back, than doing it over rocky terrain. At least it wasn’t hot out today. The high was 71 degrees with a lot of wind. As long as I was moving I was almost hot. As soon as I stopped I was almost cold. I like hiking in this type of weather. It really helps with the water situation. About three miles after the surprise water cache I crossed highway 12. From here it is a long hitch into the town of Reserve, NM. When I first got sick, this was my emergency backup plan. Supposedly it is a difficult 40 mile hitch, but there was a number for a shuttle service at the trailhead. Since I’m not deathly ill, I didn’t consider going to town any longer. There was also another surprise water cache with 4 gallons of water. Dang, I could have saved myself 3 miles of carrying water. I had already drank about half a liter of what I was carrying, but I didn’t feel like I needed any more and some hikers behind me might need it.

Part of the Highway 12 cache, the rest was in the bushes

From this point forward I was on the Pie Town alternate route. This is a 40 mile alternate that takes me into Pie Town. I have to go there to resupply. The cdt official route includes a 30-40 mile dry stretch with a 14 mile road walk on highway 60. I guess I would rather walk 40 miles of dirt roads and have some water, than 40 miles of no water and a busy highway to walk on. 

Forest Rd 218

All afternoon long this was my view 

Towards the end of my day I passed a backcountry camping area. I really thought about stopping, but it was only 5:30. I really wanted to get a few more miles in. I decided to forgo the picnic tables and pit toilets, a real luxury in the backcountry. As I hiked past I saw another glimmer in the bushes. Yup, another secret water cache. I couldn’t believe it. I carried all that water all day for nothing. Oh, well. Even if I had known it was there I still would have carried the water. You can’t always rely on water caches. I would have been screwed if it was empty. Thanks to whoever has placed these caches. I’m sure you have really helped out more than a few hikers. 

Third cache

Passing by the backcountry camp site might not have been the brightest idea. I added a couple more miles to my day, but I gained 1,000 feet in elevation. I really struggled to find a spot out of the wind. It is going to be another cold and windy night. I’ll fill you in on how it turned out tomorrow. I’m hopeful that I found a spot that is sheltered enough. Tomorrow evening it is supposed to snow. I can’t fricking believe it. I didn’t think that was in the realm of possibilities for this area this time of year. I plan on stopping well before dark and finding a nice sheltered spot. 

“When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this: you haven’t.”
- Thomas Edison


  1. Glad you are feeling better and able to keep going instead of using your back-up "Reserve" plan. Here's hoping it doesn't snow!

  2. At least you hadn't just had a peanut butter milkshake before schlepping all that water up 1000ft...

    1. I just told that story the other day. Lesson learned. I only eat ice cream based items on town days

  3. Thank you for the Italy picture and birthday shout out. I had a wonderful birthday. It was made even better by you feeling better. A big surprise with the water stashes. Your resupply box has been delivered. Don’t overdo!! LY